Voyage of Discovery

Can virtual reality bring history to life?
What do video games have to do with the environment?

Visitors joined historians, scientists and environmentalists at The Market Hall, Plymouth’s new world-class space for digital innovation and learning featuring the impressive immersive dome.

They uncovered the immersive world of science, technology and art in this interactive showcase for all age, meeting the experts behind the research with hands-on activities, talks and demonstrations in the incredible immersive theatre, the Dome, to learn more about robotics, history, the environment and even dentistry.

This event took place on 25 September 2021 at The Market Hall, Devonport as part of FUTURES2021


Cutting-edge research was showcased with stands of activities and discussions available for drop-in, including the EU Corner that featured projects in health, sustainability and the arts that have been funded by the European Union.

  • Meet a humanoid robot with Oliver Smith, Robotics PhD student at the University of Plymouth and Chair of the UPSU Robotics Society.

  • Digital river interactive experience with Zoe Latham, Doctoral Teaching Assistant at the University of Plymouth, and Linda Ward, Artist filmmaker and documentary-maker.

    Immerse yourself in the underwater environment of the River Plym from source to sea, experiencing its ebbs and flows on a journey from the freshwater tributaries of the peaty landscape of Dartmoor to floating in the sea of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.

  • How to have healthy teeth with Dr Jo Erwin, Research Fellow in Dental Public Health at the University of Plymouth and Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.

  • Aral, Mars film by Flounder Lee

    A tale shot in several countries, and of several times. It tracks the disappearance of the Aral Sea, the rise of Dubai, and our future life on Mars.

  • Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub

    Make waves for mini offshore renewable energy (ORE) devices in a real wave tank as you learn about the amazing world of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. Create your own windmill, do some colouring in and discover where the best UK spots are to place ORE devices. We'll also be joined by PORTOS, a project all about adding renewable energy technology to Atlantic ports.

  • Low Carbon Devon

    Find out how we are creating a greener Plymouth by working with Devon businesses to reduce their carbon output. For all the budding gardeners out there, get interactive with our Green Wall research plants and test the thermal conductivity and soil moisture of different soils using our hand held KD2 and theta probes. Meet the team to find out how we can get to net zero by managing the energy levels of the very buildings we live and work in through innovative visualisation apps.

Plastic Scoop short film and discussion
with Andy Hughes, artist

Plastic Scoop examines the relationship between virtual ocean and terrestrial environments and ecological issues though the filter of video gaming. Created using the Rockstar Editor, it mixes images from the videogame Grand Theft Auto V with found footage and archival moving image. The video opens with the soothing atmospheres of an ocean at sunset, but the voiceover – praising the merits of nuclear weapons and plastic ("plastic... plastic... plastic...") – soon after cracks open the beautiful scene.

Plastic Scoop examines some of the origins of consumer culture and our anxiety and fears about ocean pollution, plastic waste and global heating. It is the result of a collaboration between the Sustainable Earth Institute and Andy Hughes through the Creative Associates 2019 project.

Virtual Heritage for Health and Wellbeing
with Dr Alejandro Veliz Reyes, Lecturer in Digital Design and Fabrication, and Professor Dan Maudlin, Director of Cornerstone Heritage, both University of Plymouth

10:00-12:00 Stand with films and discussion
13:30-14:00 and 14:30-15:30 Immersive dome experience

Virtually visit Powderham Castle and a medieval longhouse in Higher Uppacott.

Learn how Alejandro and Dan bring together History, Health and Design at the University of Plymouth, producing immersive media of cultural heritage sites and creating experiences for older adults' health and wellbeing - a community group often unable to visit sites physically. They share more on how this initiative contributes to the South West heritage and cultural sector while considering digitally excluded users and communities.


24 and 25 September 2021

A festival of discovery where you can explore the past, create the present and imagine the future

FUTURES2021 brought research to life in new and exciting ways online and in-person, with events from storytelling to panel discussions, comedy, quizzes, broadcasts and more. Attendees joined researchers from the Universities of Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, Bath and Bath Spa University to explore topics such as history, health, marine, robotics and the arts.

More info on the University of Plymouth's FUTURES2021 events


FUTURES2021 is funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and delivered collaboratively by the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 101036029.